36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio feat. Liudas Mockūnas


Mikko Innanen – as, bs
Seppo Kantonen – synths
Joonas Riippa – dr
Liudas Mockūnas – ts, cl

Vilnius has heard this group five years ago. Then the musicians put forward a good doze of resourceful and cinematographic jazz wrapped in Nordic humour. However, what we are up to this time is difficult to forecast. Paradoxical, witty, free, virtuoso members of Innkvisitio engage into daring music adventures catalyzed by exotic instruments.

Since Mikko Innanen, the leader, likes to have a collection of fifes, whistles and rattles at hand, regardless of whether he uses them or not.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Innkvisitio has earned international recognition due to its originality. According to critics, the ensemble is firmly rooted in the history of jazz – the listener might hear echoes of Monk, Mingus and Sun Ra, yet at the same time it is boldly forward-looking – or ‘retro-futuristic’, as say the musicians themselves.

Alto, soprano, tenor and baritone saxophone player Mikko Innanen is one of the most striking Finnish jazz personalities and one of the foremost saxophonists of his generation in the Northern region. In 2011, he was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Music Prize.

His stylistic horizons span from authentic blues and Dixieland to avant-garde classics and free.

At the age twelve Mikko Innanen already played jazz with professionals. While a student at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki he collaborated with leading Finnish new jazz personalities earning the reputation of a very promising improviser.

His earlier merits include winning the best soloist prize at the International Competition for Jazz Groups in Getxo, Spain and the first prize at the first Jukka Perko Saxophone Contest in Huittinen, Finland. In 2008, he received the Finnish Jazz
Federation’s annual Yrjö Award as the Finnish jazz musician of the year. This year he made his initial entry to the Downbeat Critics Poll.

Since 2008, Innanen has made several extended stays in New York. He organized a two-day festival, the Mikko Innanen Intercontinental Extravaganza at the I-Beam Music Studio in Brooklyn, New York in June 2012 and 2013. The event featured four different groups consisting of himself and some of his favourite musicians from New York playing his compositions and improvising together. On the other side of the Atlantic he played with many of the top players, such as Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, Joe Fonda, Lou Grassi, Pascal Niggenkemper, Steve Swell, John Ehlis, Mat Maneri, Randy Peterson and other jazz pundits.

Besides Innkvisitio, Mikko Innanen is currently active as a bandleader/co-leader with Mikko Innanen 10+, PLOP, Gourmet, Delirium, Frozen Gainsbourg and Treffpunkt (together with Aki Rissanen), and as a featured sideman with Kalle Kalima’s K-18, André Sumelius’ Tonight At Noon, Pekka Tuppurainen’s Röd/Blå, Teppo Mäkynen’s Serenity Ensemble, Stefan Pasborg’s Free Moby Dick Project.

Mikko Innanen’s fondness for duo playing is well known. He has performed duets with Mika Kallio, Seppo Kantonen, Teppo Hauta-aho, Andrew Cyrille, Han Bennink, Stefan Pasborg, Severi Pyysalo, Aki Rissanen, Joonas Riippa, Kalle Kalima, Petri Kautto, Tuomas Ojala and André Sumelius.

Mikko Innanen has also performed and/or recorded with such coryphées as John Tchicai, Paul Lovens, Cedric Piromalli, Joachim Badenhorst, John Ehlis, Frantz Loriot, Barry Guy, Karl Berger, Billy Cobham, Ted Curson, and with such bands as Nuijamiehet, Mr. Fonebone, Triot, Teddy Rok 7, Triade, Motif, UMO and Espoo Big Band.

To date Mikko Innanen has published ca. 20 recordings as a leader or co-leader and more than 20 as a sideman. He has performed at clubs and festivals in 35 countries from Iceland to Morocco, China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Keyboardist Seppo Kantonen’s cosmos of electronic sound lends the orchestral scope to Innkvisitio – from jingle, whistles to imitation of traditional instruments.

Since the 70s Seppo Kantonen, a composer and pedagogue at the Sibelius Academy, has been playing not only jazz, but also rock as well as popular and contemporary academic music.

It would be difficult to list all the groups and orchestras, which he collaborated with. During the years Seppo Kantonen has worked with UMO Jazz Orchestra and saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen. He also appears with his Klang Trio and Tokka Quartet as well as groups of younger generation jazzmen.

Seppo Kantonen’s stage partners include such luminaries as Ray Anderson, Michael Brecker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gil Evans, Barry Guy, Billy Hart, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Nils Landgren, David Liebman, Joe Lovano, Vince Mendoza, Palle Mikkelborg, Bob Mintzer, Bob Moses, Houston Person, Terje Rypdal, Maria Schneider, Tomasz Stanko, Toots Thielemans, Cuong Vu, Kenny Wheeler, Phil Woods and John Zorn.

Joonas Riippa is considered to be one of the most musical Finnish drummers. He is famed for his phenomenal technique and extraordinary precision. The drummer is sought after by many a Finland’s leading jazzman. Recently he has been collaborating with Verneri Pohjola, Aki Rissanen, Kalle Kalima, Jussi Kannaste, Teemu Viinikainen, and Englishman Hayden Powell.

Liudas Mockūnas is one of the most creative representatives of the Lithuanian contemporary jazz and improvised music. Upon graduating from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LAMT) and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, he took active stance on the scene of European improvised music.

The musician is a leader of Mockūno Nuclear, co-leader of various international collectives such as Toxikum, electro-acoustic trio Red Planet and Lithuanian Saga Quartet, a member of Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Konvoj Ensemble, Markus Pesonen’s Hendecet, Stefan Pasborg’s Free Moby Dick and Odessa 5, Vladimir Tarasov Trio Nada and the Gaida Ensemble as well as a member of Lithuanian Ensemble Network.

The saxophonist has played as a duo with Marc Ducret and Ryoji Hojito, Barry Guy, William Hooker, Petras Geniušas and Vladimir Tarasov, collaborated with Jacob Anderskov, Nils Davidsen, Vladimir Chekasin, Arkady Gotesman, Mats Eilertsen, Mark Solborg, Jonas Westergaard, Jakob Riis, Jaak Sooäär and many other intriguing jazz musicians.

He has taken part in programmes of Pierre Dorge and his New Jungle Orchestra, Andrew Hill’s Jazz Par octet, Ibrahim Electric, British TrioVD, Free Tallinn Trio, Mats Gustaffsson, Raymond Strid and Frank Gratkowski.

In 2004, Liudas Mockūnas and Stefan Pasborg received the Danish Music Award for Toxicum’s album. The saxophonist is a prize winner of various competitions in Lithuania, Latvia and France; a recipient of Vilnius Jazz and Birštonas Jazz prizes for contribution to Lithuanian jazz, as well as Gold Disc awarded by the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union. In 2011, he was decorated with a Golden Cross of the Stage (award for achievements in Lithuanian theatre field) for the best music for theatre production.

In addition, he is famed not only as an exponent of improvised music and avant-garde jazz, but also as an expert of contemporary academic music. His repertoire includes works by academic music composers including Bronius Kutavičius, Anatolijus Šenderovas, Arvydas Malcys, Vyacheslav Ganelin, Dietrich Eichmann, Vykintas Baltakas, Raminta Šerkšnytė and Giedrius Puskunigis.

As a soloist the saxophonist has performed with Kralovy Hradec Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra and Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra as well as St. Christopher and Klaipėda chamber orchestras and Chordos String Quartet. With various formations He has toured in Europe, the USA and China.

Liudas Mockūnas has contributed greatly to the producing of experimental jazz recordings – he is a co-founder and co-strategist of an independent record label NoBusiness Records. 

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